My choice for GOTY 2015 is not based on an informed sampling of the best this year had to offer. Because I delayed joining the next-gen world for close to two years, I didn’t get to play many of this year’s star-studded releases, including The Witcher 3, Fallout 4, Metal Gear Solid V or Batman: Arkham Knight. Like a scrappy wasteland survivor, I made do with my old Xbox 360 and its packed back-catalog that’s getting cheaper all the time. But right after Thanksgiving, I finally pulled the trigger on a next-gen console and have been enjoying it quite thoroughly. That enjoyment is (mostly) thanks to one game – the only game released in 2015 I can honestly say I’ve played. It’s the game that had me salivating over YouTube videos when I was still clinging to my old 360. It’s the game that I decided I couldn’t live without any longer. It’s a game that I believe is a must-own, despite the short list of next-gen games I’ve played. The game? Bloodborne.
Bloodborne, FromSoftware’s next-gen successor to the Dark Souls franchise, is a towering achievement of blood-soaked combat, mysterious lore and immaculate aesthetic design. As a newly-arrived hunter in the afflicted city of Yharnam, you set out to stop the beastly scourge that’s turned the citizens into monsters. Armed with savage and stylish trick weapons, you cut down blood-crazed beasts, malformed friends and otherworldly eldritch horrors throughout a dark and dreadful world of Victorian and Lovecraftian inspiration. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s signature world design and storytelling techniques are ever-present, offering the player smart, densely constructed environments to navigate while embedding Bloodborne’s deep plot into the world, gameplay and items themselves. It’s also perfect for those seeking a challenge. Bloodborne will swallow you, chew you up and spit you out if you refuse to adapt and learn. It’s a game that doesn’t insult your intelligence, which forces you to dig deep when you’re struggling and to think for yourself about your relationship to the living cosmos.
Now is also the best time to play Bloodborne. Since its release last spring, the price has dropped considerably. And with the absolutely excellent Old Hunters expansion recently released, the game has never had as much content or online activity to offer. Even after you’ve played everything there is to play in Bloodborne, you might find yourself among the game’s buzzing communities on YouTube and Reddit exploring its lore, PVP strategies or procedurally-generated Chalice Dungeons. But at the very least, getting Bloodborne means owning one of the best games of this new generation. Though I may not have played every all-star game of 2015, I know the unified strength of Bloodborne’s nightmare-slaying action, frightful artistic vision and lofty philosophical underpinnings places it highly among them, if not eclipses them altogether (I still read reviews, y’know).
I choose Bloodborne as my Game of the Year for 2015, and I would recommend it to anyone with enough cash to shell out for a PS4. I think you’ll find that the experience Bloodborne offers will justify your purchase while you consider your next game to get from the PS4’s growing collection. Or you could just wait until FromSoftware releases Dark Souls III, since you might not ever be the same again.